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Primary Projects

Hariharpur Musicians Village

An Extraordinary Heritage

The musicians village of Hariharpur is just 2 hours away from Varanasi. Here, practically every Brahmin family has a tradition of a musical lineage. Some of the legendary artists who can trace their roots to this small village include Pt. Chhanulal Mishra (Padma Bhushan), the late Pt. Samta Prasad, Pt. Sarda Maharaj, and relatives of Pt. Birju Maharaj (Padma Vibhushan).

Almost every member of the community is carrying on the classical tradition. All the boys are taught music from an early age, from their fathers, uncles or grandfathers, learning to play tabla and sarangi, and to sing classical as well as folk genres. The girls traditionally were not given any formal training in music. However, they often learned informally, as a result of the constant exposure, and some are now being trained. A number of the contemporary musicians are extremely proficient, and earn tremendous appreciation from their performances in Delhi and Lucknow during the ITRHD Azamgarh Festivals.

Except for the ITRHD Festivals, however, these talented musicians have few opportunities to perform, and suffer great economic hardship. The younger generation is thus increasingly leaving the village, and the tradition, with its lineage of the Benares gharana, is in danger of being lost.

In addition to the absence of economic returns, the musicians were suffering from lack of professional training, shortage of musical instruments, few performance opportunities, and general lack of awareness and appreciation for their talent. Our focus therefore has been on the following:

  • In partnership with the Department of Tourism, Government of UP, we have restored and renovated the music hall in Hariharpur, installing an acoustic system and improving the facilities (water, toilets, lights, flooring, external approach, etc.).
  • Providing training by visiting eminent music masters, primarily for the younger musicians. In the process skills are being improved and diversified to cater to wider audiences.
  • Providing performance opportunities for sophisticated urban audiences at major venues in Delhi and Lucknow in the annual ITRHD Azamgarh Festivals. Azamgarh And Patiala Cultural Festivals


In our first interactions with the community in Hariharpur, the residents mentioned that a major problem they were facing was the lack of good educational facilities for the children. It was clear to us that without good education, the new generation would have little chance of understanding and appreciating their unique heritage, much less of acquiring the tools necessary for securing a comfortable and productive life. ITRHD thus decided that establishment of a primary school in Hariharpur would be an ideal pilot project, demonstrating the way in which education can be inextricably linked with preservation and enhancement of a unique living heritage.

We thus began developing a primary school which would provide good quality and value-based education free of cost to the children from all communities of Hariharpur village and its neighbouring villages. The school began operating in a rented building in February 2013, with 70 children at nursery level. Having shifted operations to a new school building in 2014, today the school is providing education to over 100 children in 4 classes, with a substantial percentage of girls. See Hariharpur Chacha Nehru Primary School for the full story.